This is another book reviews that I’ll be posting through Speakeasy; they give out free books in return for bloggers’ honest reviews of these books.
Over winter break, I read Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the Meal by Milton Brasher-Cunningham. He looks at different meals throughout his life and re-tells them as metaphors for Communion; there are even poems and recipes to enhance the experience. Topics from soup kitchens, restaurant work, funerary meals, and even baseball, are covered as Brasher-Cunningham weaves Keeping the Feast together. He writes each metaphor with the understanding that Communion is the defining ritual of Christians. By interpreting the facets within such a specifically Christian ritual and connecting it to everyday meal experiences, he reminds us that love can be expressed in the most unexpected times, and that the holy is in and around the mundane parts of life.
Brasher-Cunningham reminds us that “the opposite of remember is dismember: to take apart” (122). As followers of Jesus join together to remember Jesus in the Communion meal, we are partaking in an act of will to choose love over dissent, and togetherness over divisiveness; we define our identity around this meal and in this ritual (10). His honest and detailed stories, recipes, and metaphors provide a refreshing avenue to re-visit one of the most ancient rituals for Christians.
Overall, this book provides a set of short, enjoyable, and unique approaches for engaging the meal aspect of the Lord’s Supper, Communion, or Eucharist (whichever you choose to call it). Keeping the Feast is deeply theological, but more importantly, it is deeply human. All persons eat and prepare food; in doing so, we share in experiencing and carrying all that these meals bring along with them as fellow humans. In shared meals, he writes that these times together become ritual, that they become “memory, comfort, love, and even hope” (116). Even more, he writes that “the point of life is to be together… to love all one anothers, and to struggle against everything that leads us away from that love” (117). I was encouraged to read Keeping the Feast and grow my own understanding of Communion and the meal that has been shared throughout history as a way of remembering God’s love among us and promises for tomorrow.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Last Sunday, the Food & Faith Sunday School class I’m facilitating talked about the voiceless. We discussed matters of farmworker rights, and animal rights, as these groups are largely without a voice, whether legally or physically. I thought it would be helpful to share a resource I’ve come across that relates to justice for farmworkers.
The NC Council of Churches, along with the NC Office of the National Farm Worker Ministry, started something called The Farmworker Institute. This Institute is supported by a grant from The Duke Endowment, and seeks to improve the working and living conditions of farmworkers in North Carolina.
They work to improve conditions of farmworkers through public awareness, advocacy, service, support for organizing, and resolutions of endorsement. They are currently engaged in a strategic effort to help identify and mobilize faith-based allies in the movement for farmworker justice.
See the link about their initiatives and find resources about how YOU can be involved here. They have fact sheets, NC-specific research data, and ways to start making a difference TODAY!
I’ve started a summer internship at a local church’s community garden helping coordinate volunteers and food distribution. They started the garden a few years ago and thanks to some committed volunteers, it has grown well and is a beautiful place. In addition to my coordinating, the church be subjected to my theological ramblings and ponderings about matters of food & faith! I’ll be reflecting on various topics as related to our garden and faith throughout the summer. Here’s my first brief reflection:
In an introductory section of her book Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible, Ellen Davis writes, “…I shall treat our lack of recognition as a failure of religious imagination, an inability to imagine that this world could be significantly different, for better or for much worse, than we and every human generation before us have experienced it” (10). She is highlighting the hesitancy of Jews, Christians, and Muslims to engage the Hebrew Bible on matters of creation care; though many reasons can be given to explain this lack of consideration, Davis argues that we lack religious imagination.
As we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, we remember that God has already given us the Holy Spirit, who brought new life, and opened the door to a new way of being for the followers of Jesus. The Spirit gave them the strength and vision to live into God’s Kingdom; it could be said that the Spirit gave them a renewed sense of religious imagination. As this church embarks on another season of growing (in the garden and in other ways), my prayer is that God would rekindle within us an awareness of the Spirit’s work in our lives and amongst our world.
As the summer continues, I look forward to growing in religious imagination with this community. What could it look like for us to engage matters of food and faith, gardening, creation care, and church life with a renewed sense of religious imagination?